Chef Bios: Judy Rodgers

Staff Writer
Chef at San Francisco's Zuni Café
Judy Rodgers
Kim Kulish/Corbis
Judy Rodgers

Judy Rodgers was born in St. Louis and got a strong start in the world of restaurants that helped shape the rest of her career, despite the fact that she showed no inherent interest in food or cooking. in 1973, at the age of 16, Rodgers traveled to France where she lived and observed at the famed restaurant in Roanne, Les Frères Troisgros—now La Maison Troisgros—that has received three Michelin stars since 1968. The Troisgros brothers were friends of a neighbor who also suggested that Rodgers document all she ate and learned on this trip.

Rodgers’ next move sent her to Stanford University where she studied art history. After meeting Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., Rodgers shared a few of her Troisgros recipes with Waters who then suggested that Rodgers cook at the restaurant for a few days and offered her a position as a lunch chef on Saturdays. After her time at Chez Panisse, Rodgers returned to France to visit a restaurant and inn called l’Estanquet. Though she had only planned on visiting, the proprietress thought Rodgers was going to live in France and cook at the restaurant. Rodgers was then hired to work with Marion Cunningham on a menu for the Union Hotel in Benicia, California after she returned from France. Rodgers then traveled to various parts of Italy where she, again, documented all the foods she came into contact with.

In 1987, Rodgers became the chef-owner at Zuni Café in San Francisco, where she has remained since. Her times in France and Italy can be seen as strong influences over her traditional American home cooking.

 

QUICKFACTS:
Culinary Style: Casual American based on traditional French and Italian Cuisines
Restaurants: Zuni Café

DID YOU KNOW?
After graduating from Stanford, Rodgers was considering attending law school